Introduction to Quantitative Methods for the MPA Programme

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

The teacher will be announced at the start of the course.


This course is compulsory on the Double Master of Public Administration (LSE-University of Toronto) and Master of Public Administration. This course is not available as an outside option.

Also available to other MPhil/PhD students with the agreement of the course tutor.

Course content

An introduction to basic mathematical and statistical concepts for use in MPA courses in economics and quantitative approaches. The course covers the following topics: Statistics: Discrete and continuous random variables, jointly distributed random variables, the Normal distribution, sampling and the Central Limit Theorem, properties of estimators, introduction to hypothesis testing. Mathematics: Linear functions, quadratic, logarithmic and exponential functions, the derivative of a function and rules of differentiation, unconstrained optimization with one variable, functions of several variables and their differentiation, unconstrained optimization with several variables, constrained optimization.


The course runs over 8 days, during the two weeks prior to the start of the Michaelmas Term. This year, teaching will be delivered through a combination of online lectures and interactive classes.  Some classes may take place in person where possible and if conditions allow. 

Indicative reading

Notes covering the course material will be made available at the beginning of the course. Students are strongly encouraged to read Charles Whelan's 'Naked Statistics' prior to the start of the course.  It provides a readable and accessible background to the statistics portion of the course.  Two widely used introductory statistics books that can be used as background reading for the statistics part are Newbold, Carlson and Thorne 'Statistics for Business and Economics' (6th edition) and Wonnacott and Wonnacott 'Introductory Statistics for Business and Economics' (4th edition). However, there are also many other introductory statistics textbooks that cover the same material.


Two widely used introductory mathematics books that can be used a background reading for the mathematics part are Ian Jacques' 'Mathematics for Economics and Business' (5th edition) and Wisniewski's 'Introductory Mathematical Methods in Economics' (2nd edition). Also in this case there are a large number of excellent alternative textbooks that cover the same material. Those who want a more advanced treatment of the same material can use Simon and Blume's 'Mathematics for Economists', but this treatment is more formal than what we require for this course. We do not recommend buying a new textbook for this course, if you already own a textbook that covers similar material.


There is no formal assessment for the course but students will have the option to attempt a series of questions at the end of the course to evaluate their progress. 

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: School of Public Policy

Total students 2020/21: 87

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Controlled access 2020/21: No

Value: Non-credit bearing

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information